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Providing autonomy support in an Asian context: A tale of two teachers

  • Providing autonomy support in an Asian context: A tale of two teachers
  • Positive psychology and positive education in Asia: Understanding and fostering well-being in schools
  • Singapore
  • Springer
  • 2023
    • Hong Kong
    • 1997.7 onwards
    • Primary Education
  • Self-determination theory (SDT) posits that autonomous motivation is a critical condition for optimizing human flourishing. In the school context, autonomy-supportive teaching promotes student learning and well-being. In Asian contexts, however, an indispensable part of classroom instruction seems to relate to control, which is conceptualised as the opposite of autonomy-support. While some researchers interpret Asian teachers’ instructional practices as authoritarian, increasingly more studies have argued that children in collectivist societies indeed benefit from teachers’ ‘control’. Some researchers proclaim that autonomy support is more appropriate in Western contexts while control is more important among Asian teachers. However, other studies claim that the need for autonomy-support is universal. This chapter aims to address this debate by reporting a study of the teaching style of two Hong Kong teachers. The mixed-method study was based on classroom observations and interviews of two teachers regarding their teaching styles, and a survey measured the motivation of 67 junior form students who were taught by the teachers. The coding results of classroom observation indicated that the two teachers have largely embodied autonomy support in their teaching, and that minimal controlling behaviour was found in the teachers. Their classroom practice was dominated by fostering student interest, with relatedness support and promoting mastery learning orientation as the dominant features of the two teacher’s teaching styles respectively. The two teachers’ beliefs and practices showed a strong resemblance to Confucian philosophical ideas, demonstrating the characteristics of being altruistic (jen), self as relational, and self-cultivation. Their students’ motivation was almost equally high in terms of students’ relationships with the teachers, perceived self-efficacy, learning goals, and self-handicapping behaviour (reverse score). The results disagreed with the point of view that Asian teachers are controlling but rather endorses self-otherness as a core cultural norm that makes Asian teachers’ autonomy support and teaching style specific to the Chinese culture. Implications for positive psychology and future research directions are discussed. Copyright © 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
    • English
  • Book Chapters
    • 9789819955701
  • 2024-01-12

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